“Lightscape’s American Debut at the Chicago Botanic Garden,” by S.M. O’Connor

Lightscape at the Chicago Botanic Garden (C.B.G.) is sold out through December 27, 2019 (the Third Day of Christmas).  It started on Friday, November 22, 2019 and will run through Sunday, January 5, 2020 (the Twelfth Day of Christmas).  Lightscape is held nightly from 4:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. with the last entry at 8:00 p.m.  Visitors take a one-mile-long path through art installations and are able to toast marshmallows over a fire and drink hot chocolate, apple cider, or eggnog at stations along the trail.  Lightscape is coming to the Chicago Botanic Garden directly from London.  This is its American debut.  More than 1,000,000 saw Lightscape in the United Kingdom.  If you like Lightscape at the Chicago Botanic Garden, you should also like Illumination at The Morton Arboretum and vice versa.  The Woman’s Board of the Chicago Horticultural Society raised $325,000 with its Lightscape preview fundraiser on Thursday, November 21, 2019.

The C.B.G. is mounting Lightscape in partnership with Sony Music, creatively produced by Culture Creative, and promoted in partnership with producer/promotor Arny Granat of WAD Entertainment.  Raymond Gubbay, Ltd., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sony Music, produces and promotes “Light Trail events” around Christmas in the U.K.  Founded by impresario Raymond Gubbay in 1966, the company also produces and promotes operas, concerts, ballets, and other events in the U.K. The Light Trail arm has worked with the Royal Botanic Garden, Kew; Blenheim Palace; the National Trust; the Forestry Commission; and the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh. 

Figure 1 Credit: The Chicago Botanic Garden Caption: This is Christmas at Kew, held at Royal Botanic Garden, Kew.

Figure 2 Credit: Chicago Botanic Garden Caption: This is the Feast of Light, where visitors walk through suspended strands of lights, as seen at Christmas at the Botanics, at the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh.

 

Figure 3 Credit: Chicago Botanic Garden Credit: This is the Cathedral of Light, as seen in Edinburgh, on December 29, 2018.

Figure 4 Credit: Chicago Botanic Garden Credit: This is the Cathedral of Light, as seen in Edinburgh, as seen on December 29, 2018.

Culture Creative is a British creative project and production management company.  It works in a variety of fields, including art, sport, heritage, tourism, festivals and events.  In other words, they produce spectacles.  For more information about Lightscape, go to http://www.chicagobotanic.org/lightscape. The sponsors are ComEd, North Shore University HealthSystem, Lakeshore Beverage, and UL. 

This the American debut of the following art installations produced by artists from the U.K. and Australia: Cathedral of Light, Fire Garden, Singing Trees, Feast of Light, and Field of LightCathedral of Light is a cathedral (arch)-shaped 110-foot-long tunnel of 100,000 lights.  Fire Garden is filled with fire-filled sculptures.  This air in this area is fragrant with frankincense.With Singing Trees, ten large trees are festooned with over a half-mile worth of L.E.D. lights. The trees light up as they “sing.”  The C.B.G. describes Feast of Light as a “large, immersive walk-through experience with suspended strands of light to create feelings of presence and movement.”  Thousands of points of light “dance” to music in Field of Light.

Further, artists from the U.K. developed new art installations for the Chicago Botanic Garden.  In a press release, the C.B.G. gave three examples.  Firstly, there is a canopy of fifty-two crabapple trees along the Lakeside Gardens “bloom” thanks to twinkling lights.  Secondly, forty oversized tulips in flower beds between the boxwood hedges in the Helen and Richard Thomas English Walled Garden are colorfully illuminated.  Thirdly, a cascade of water in the Waterfall Garden gets “turned on.”

“Building off the successful holiday light shows curated by our partners that sold more than one million tickets last year across the U.K., we are excited to bring a festive world to wonder to the Garden that is tailored for enjoying with family and friends,” stated Harriet Resnick, the Chicago Botanic Garden’s Vice President of Visitor Experience and Business Development.

Strollers are allowed.  While side-by-side strollers are allowed, the C.B.G. advises visitors that single strollers or front-to-back strollers make for a better experience on the path.

Figure 5 Credit: Chicago Botanic Garden Credit: This is Lightscape at the Chicago Botanic Garden, as seen on November 20, 2019.

Figure 6 Credit: Chicago Botanic Garden Credit: This is the Cathedral of Light, as seen at the Chicago Botanic Garden, as seen on November 20, 2019.

Figure 7 Credit: Chicago Botanic Garden Caption: Here, we see visitors walking through Lightscape on November 20, 2019.

Figure 8 Credit: Chicago Botanic Garden Caption: This is Lightscape at the Chicago Botanic Garden on November 17, 2019.

Figure 9 Credit: Chicago Botanic Garden Caption: This is Lightscape at the Chicago Botanic Garden on November 19, 2019.

Figure 10 Credit: Chicago Botanic Garden Caption: Here, we see part of Lightscape at the Chicago Botanic Garden on November 17, 2019.

Figure 11 Credit: Chicago Botanic Garden Caption: This is the art installation Singing Trees, as seen at the Chicago Botanic Garden, on November 19, 2019.

Figure 12 Credit: Chicago Botanic Garden Caption: Here. We see visitors walking through the art installation Singing Trees, as seen at the Chicago Botanic Garden, on November 20, 2019.

Figure 13 Credit: Chicago Botanic Garden Caption: Here, we see visitors toasting s’mores at Lightscape on November 20, 2019.

Figure 14 Credit: Chicago Botanic Garden Caption: This is Lightscape, as seen on November 18, 2019.

Figure 15 Credit: Chicago Botanic Garden Caption: This is Lightscape, as seen on November 22, 2019.

Figure 16 Credit: Chicago Botanic Garden Caption: This is Waterfall of Light, as seen on November 17, 2019.

Figure 17 Credit: Chicago Botanic Garden Caption: This is the art installation Feast of Light, where visitors walk through suspended strands of lights, as seen at the Chicago Botanic Garden, on November 20, 2019.

Figure 18 Credit: Chicago Botanic Garden Caption: This is the art installation Feast of Light, as seen on November 20, 2019.

Figure 19 Credit: Chicago Botanic Garden Caption: This is the art installation Field of Light, described on the Chicago Botanic Garden Website as the “festive finale.”

Figure 20 Credit: Chicago Botanic Garden Caption: This is Field of Light, as seen on November 17, 2019.

Figure 21 Credit: Chicago Botanic Garden Caption: This is Field of Light, as seen on November 17, 2019.

Timed-entry tickets are sold in fifteen-minute increments to stagger groups for a better experience with the first entry at 4:30 and the last at 8:00, but guests can stay until 10:00.  Tickets are an extra $2 per ticket if purchased the day of the visit.  Value tickets range from $17 to $20 for adults and $8 to $10 for children (ages three-to-twelve).  Standard tickets range from $21 to $23 for adults and $10 to $12 for children (ages three-to-twelve).   Peak tickets range from $23 to $25 for adults and $11 to $13 for children (ages three-to-twelve).   Children under three (in other words, infants and toddlers) get in for free.  Click here to purchase tickets.  There are no refunds or exchanges. 

Buy parking in advance to save 50%.  The parking fee is $10 per vehicle in advance or $20 per vehicle if paid upon arrival.  Members always park for free.

This time of year, the C.B.G. is open from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.  The Garden View Café is open from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and the Garden Shop is open from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.  The Chicago Horticultural Society manages the 385-acre Chicago Botanic Garden, which opened in 1972, and sits on property owned by the Forest Preserve District of Cook County.  The Chicago Horticultural Society describes the Chicago Botanic Garden as a “living plant museum.”  Comprised of twenty-seven gardens and four nature areas, it belongs to the American Alliance of Museum (formerly called the American Association of Museums) and is a member of the American Public Gardens Association.  The address is 1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe, Illinois 60022.  The Customer Service phone number is (847) 835-6801, the Main phone number is (847) 835-5440, and the Member phone number is (847) 835-8215.

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